Here’s a breakdown of the Spider-Gwen logo from my sketchbook all the way to the final design. I switched up my process quite a bit for this logo so hopefully this might be interesting to a few people.
I always start in my sketchbook. You can see where I was playing with the idea of dotting the i with the spider and I forget at which point I threw that out the window. But from the start I knew I wanted a rough brush look to the final design since I thought it would be a nice compliment to Robbi’s art. I started out playing around with some of the digital brushes I have loaded in Photoshop but after a lot of experimenting, I wasn’t getting anything close to the results I wanted. I was losing all of the dry brush analogue feel I was going for.
So I went back to what I know best which is Adobe Illustrator. I built out four different designs using a combination of various fonts and a lot of custom work with the pen tool. Then I ran these sketches past Marvel to give them an idea of where I was going. Once they were cool with the direction, I changed these sketches to blue line and starting laying them out on some 11x17 pages. I printed off six of these spreads onto some nice paper and got to work with a few sumi brushes. So I ended up with a dozen inked versions of each design to pick from.
I scanned in the inked pages into Photoshop and cut together the pieces I liked from each inked logo and narrowed it back down to four finished designs. I ran those logos through the trace in Illustrator which converts them to vector art and then I cleaned up everything with the pen tool. These four blue proofs were then submitted to Marvel for approval.
Once we picked a winner from those blue proofs, I built a better spider to use in the final black and white logo. The last bit was the webbing and that somehow took me forever. I got way too obsessed with the amount of webs and the overall look of them. Both the spider and the webs done in Illustrator using some custom brushes that I’ve built up for myself over the years.
The Riverdale High gang gets drafted and is headed for Vietnam. Turns out when you take away his beloved cheeseburgers, Jughead turns into a dope smoking murderous psychopath. Reggie is blown up stepping on a mine their first day in country and Archie just snaps. Now he can’t stop crying and spends his days writing letters to Bettie and Veronica who have run off to live in a hippie commune.
I’ll have some high quality 13 x 19 prints for sale this weekend at NYCC. Artist Alley table H11.
As most of you have probably heard, Marvel Comics is “paying
tribute” to classic Hip-Hop with a set of 50 new variant covers blending Marvel
Comics characters with Hip-Hop inspiration making comic covers that “riff” on
albums that have been released over the last 30 years or so.
The thing about it all is that nothing about this tribute
that EIC Alex Alonso of Marvel Comics is trying to push out there is new at
all. If anything, this newest campaign from Marvel Comics is more of a
shark-biting campaign attempting to use and cash in on the popularity of
Hip-Hop and Black culture while at the same time excluding most, if not all of
the people of Hip-Hop culture and those that contribute to it.
Years ago, artists and creators such as Julian Lytle, Sean
Causley, Ron Wimberly, Michael Axt, Jared K Fletcher, JC Etheredge and others
were part of the Longboxes on 22’s Tumblr (created by Sean & Julian), where
they merged their love of Hip-Hop and comic book culture to make amazing album
covers. My involvement with the site was in creating track-lists for the album
covers and surreal “Source-style” reviews for said albums. Over 50,000
followers. Massive visibility. Take a look at it: http://longboxeson22s.tumblr.com/page/20
These creators spoke to an audience that felt alienated by
most of the geek crowd when they went to comic cons or comic book stores
because of their love for Hip-Hop and the culture. It helped others relate and
bridge a gap with others between Hip-Hop & comic books. It brought folks
together. There was a love in the creation of these covers.
And all the covers these artists created MADE SENSE. There
was a rhyme, reason, and purpose behind every piece of art and cover.
All of these talents of various ethnicities, which have had
their work seen to and from across an internet of millions over these last five
years were simply shark bit with Marvel’s latest cash grab.
I’m sure there’s other artists out there that got bit too,
but I can only go from what I know of and have record of. These folks did hot covers
for YEARS before anyone at Marvel gave one damn about cashing in on this.
It upsets me heavily. Especially since not one of these
talents were even involved in Marvel’s latest endeavor. It feels as if Marvel, Axel
Alonso and whatever editor wished to push this forward saw all these works over
the years, waited for things to cool down a bit and jacked the concept without a
And as the press releases continue to flow amongst the geek
sites regarding these Hip-Hop covers Marvel is doing, you’ll read of people
praising Marvel for their continued “Columbus-ing” of a culture that they don’t
really mess with.
Let me correct myself, they mess with the “culture” but they
stay away from most, if not all of the people who are a part of said culture
that build this creative cool stuff. Marvel takes what they need, and then they
Speaking of culture, remember that Marvel Comics is the same
publisher that has damn near 50 new comic book series on the way and not ONE
BLACK WRITER on the current roster. They have Black characters and Black team
books, but no Black writers. Again, they love the culture and push diversity
strictly on the page and next to never behind the scenes.
So the shark-biting that is currently being done here is not
surprising. I guess Marvel Comics is doing these Hip-Hop variant covers to back
up all that street cred they’ve been building for years while hiring a
multitude of Black writers, artists and people of color… <side-eye> <sarcasm>
And yes, I do sincerely understand that Hip-Hop is
mainstream now. But the comic book business on the regular loves Black culture
but rarely involves Black people and people of color in it. They just bite the
creative works of the cultures and sell it to white audiences.
This is much deeper than just remixing a comic book cover.
When you look at the first wave of Marvel hip-hop joints,
outside of the A$AP cover, from an art direction stance, nothing else really
makes sense. If anything, most of those covers that Marvel is putting
out mocks hip-hop in some cases rather than embracing it. And that’s no
offense to the artists that created their covers. If an editor told you to do
it, I get it. If that’s what you felt, cool.
And then to top it off, there are 50 covers and only three
Black artists have been allowed to play in Marvel’s sandbox for this project
(Sanford Greene, Khary Randolph, and Brian Stelfreze).
Respect to the few Black artists that are working at Marvel
right now. We see you. I know there’s not many (because there’s not), but we
After October passes, these Marvel hip-hop variant covers
will disappear and it’ll be on to the next thing for them. After they’re done
with those 50 covers, Mr. Alonso will just look at the culture, wave & say
“Bye, Phylicia” then move on to the next thing without a care.
But I won’t forget this.
And neither should you.
But will the fans care? I don’t know. For most, as long as
they get their stuff it doesn’t matter to them.
Equality and true diversity in comics doesn’t matter to them
as long as they get their stuff.
So don’t ask me about the next Marvel movie, comic, cartoon,
synergy-filled whatever because I don’t ride with Marvel when they shark-bite
*Side note #2: Since the release of my post, plus the tumblr posts of David Brothers, artist Kenny Keil and many other media side regarding Marvels 1-way relationship w/our culture, Marvel Comics EIC is saying that the cover artist list of 50 Hip-Hop variant covers is not complete and on his twitter feed displayed a Keron Grant Wolverine cover based off of DMX’s “Flesh of my Flesh, Blood of my Blood” followed with “12 down, 40+ to go in coming weeks.”
Cover and some of the interior design pages from the first of the Southern Bastards hardcovers. Complete with tablecloth plaid endpapers!
And as far as I know, this is the only comic you can buy with a recipe section in the bonus material. This first HC features an exclusive recipe from Latour’s own sweet southern mother along with a lot of great sketchbook material.
NIghtcrawler #1 hits comic shelves today with my new logo. Here’s the final design along with a few others that got cut along the way. There were a lot of different routes to choose from when I started out on this design since Nightcrawler is so many different things rolled up into one character. A blue mutant with a tail, a German, a priest, a circus freak, and a pirate. I was a fan of the third option here because I thought it fit Todd Nauck’s interior art really well but it was deemed too playful. Marvel wanted something of an updated version of the original logo to let the readers know this comic was more in the classic swashbuckling Claremont vein. Bamf!
All-New X-Factor 20 cover by Kris Anka and myself.
Spidey 2099 makes a cameo for the final issue as our team strolls off into the great comics beyond. Kris had the nice idea of going out on white for our last cover background. I couldn’t argue with that.
These 20 covers were a great collaboration and a lot of fun. I miss working on them already. Muchas gracias to Kris for being my better ½ on this little cover run. Thanks to Jordan for getting us started, Katie for seeing across the finish line, and Xander for being a champ.
The whole crew signed a few thousand copies of Paper Girls #1 for the folks at Midtown Comics. I hear there’s a video of out Q&A on their youtube channel.
A week later, I took the train down to Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find (one of the best comic shops I’ve ever set foot in) to sign more books with Cliff, Latour, Rico, and Skottie Young. I also honored my Hi5 promises to the fine gentleman who brought these CMYK covers for me to sign.
The support for Paper Girls has been really fantastic to see up close. Thanks to everyone who’s picked up a copy so far or come out to any of the signings.
I actually designed this logo some time ago when the book was just called Masters of War. It was a quite regal design that played up the monarchy aspect of the book. I was never really thrilled with what I came up with. I got a chance to take another stab at it when the title changed and Vertigo wanted a British WW2 propoganda vibe to match the brilliant (Brit slang intended) covers.
This was the first of my recent bend of logo designs where I painted over the vector art to get a more subtle organic texture to the design without using any filters.